We’ve shared some great posters from the 2020 conference through our Poster Profiles this year and this one is no exception! This month, we’re sharing Erin Tattersall’s research about ecological characteristics of linear features and how those relate to wildlife use.
Poster authors: Erin Tattersall, Karine Pigeon, Doug MacNearney, and Laura Finnegan
Poster title: Walking the Line: Investigating ecological characteristics relating to wildlife linear feature use.
Here’s a pdf of Erin’s poster.
Linear features from industrial development have been identified as central to the decline of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus) due to their use by caribou predators. Erin’s research aimed to identify which local habitat characteristics correspond to linear feature use by caribou predators and alternate prey species, as well as assessing linear feature use for ungulates and bears as a function of edge vegetation. She used established sampling plots along linear features during the summers of 2014 and 2015 and recorded wildlife tracks and sign, measured forest and line characteristics, and vegetation cover. They used a series of mixed-effect models and backward selection to optimize model fit, then combined final variables into a global model.
Erin’s results show that all species use linear features for ease of movement and that animals are more likely to use linear features with game trails or human trails in them. Predators may use linear features to access prey and moose and deer may use them to access forage. The management implications of this work are to create movement barriers to inhibit trail formation and use by predators and alternate prey. In addition, restoration can replace early seral vegetation that provide forage for moose and deer.
Erin conducted this work while working with the Foothills Research Institute, but in March she moved to British Columbia to work for the Knowledge Management Branch and Caribou Recovery Program of the BC Public Service.